Review: As You Wish

As You WishCary Elwes with Joe Layden, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of “The Princess Bride”

In this book, Cary Elwes shares his memories of making the beloved movie “The Princess Bride.” He talks about reading the book (by William Goldman) as a child, meeting director Rob Reiner for the first time, and being extremely nervous about his audition. He also reminisces fondly about his fellow cast members, particularly the late André the Giant, whom he describes as a true “gentle giant.” The book also spends a lot of time on the sword fight between Westley and Inigo, for which Elwes and Mandy Patinkin spent almost every free moment training. The filmmakers were determined to produce a duel that could hold its own with some of the greatest sword fights in movie history, and Elwes recalls the intensity of his training in detail. Along with Elwes’ own narrative, this book contains anecdotes from many other people involved with the film, including Rob Reiner (director), Robin Wright (Buttercup), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdinck), and Billy Crystal (Miracle Max). Overall, the book presents a fond, nostalgic look at the making of this classic film.

“The Princess Bride” is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was definitely the intended audience for this book! I must say, it’s clear that Cary Elwes is not a writer by nature…the prose is often a bit stilted, especially when he describes his inner thoughts and reactions to what’s going on. However, the book is very readable, and it provides a great window into Elwes’ experiences in making this movie. I like the fact that other actors’ stories are included, so that it’s not just one person’s point of view. I also learned a lot of interesting tidbits about the process: for example, Elwes badly injured his foot during shooting, so there are a few scenes in which (if you’re looking for it) you can see him limping or favoring his bad foot. Wallace Shawn, who played Vizzini, was terrified of being fired because he’d heard that Danny DeVito had originally been considered for the part. And Billy Crystal apparently improvised some of the funniest lines in the Miracle Max scene, including the bit about the mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich! Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to fans of the movie — and then I HIGHLY suggest re-watching the film! 🙂

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